Skip to main content


As a research institute, ISITA provides a framework where interpretive work on African Arabic script manuscripts—their contents, contexts and meanings—takes place. ISITA’s manuscript initiatives have focused primarily on making African manuscripts better known (through mapping and documentation projects) and more accessible for study (through cataloging and translation projects).

ISITA has also provided training to American scholars and librarians who use African manuscripts in their research, and support to African curators who work with African manuscripts on a daily basis. 

African Arabic Script Manuscripts

Africa's manuscript culture is shared by nearly half of the continent’s population who adhere to Islam and for whom the Arabic script – used to write Arabic and African languages – connects them to a centuries’ old but still vibrant Islamic intellectual tradition. Read more about our manuscript initiatives.

ISITA's Community of Visiting Scholars

Since 2001, ISITA has hosted more than 40 visiting scholars and fellows from 19 countries for periods ranging from several weeks to one year. Learn about the application process or browse a list of past scholars.

Support for Research

If you a Northwestern University faculty member or graduate student interested in applying for funding for research on Islam in Africa, you may apply for funding through the John Hunwick Research Fund. Visit the John Hunwick Research Fund page to find out specifics about how to apply and what funding will cover.